Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart

Aaaaaaaand we're back.

Remember how in my last post I said how happy I was that we were flying down to NJ because I couldn't do another long drive? Yeah. I jinxed it. The Philly airport was fogged in pea-soup style Thursday night, and our flight was delayed four and a half hours. So we got into my mom's at 2:30 in the morning Friday. Uch. Nolan was all wound up the whole night, he had more energy than either of us - he was running around Logan airport in his dinosaur PJs wreaking havoc. We were about ready to bag it and go home when they finally boarded the flight. I guess it could have been worse - we could have been stuck sitting on the plane for four and a half hours like the previous flight to Philly was.

But the weekend itself was good. Everyone we met at the Princeton group was awesomely normal - down-to-earth, honest folk. They're heavily involved in the community, and everyone seems to have lives outside of work, which is great. I think if KB got a job offer from either this group or the one in South Jersey, we'd be happy. We saw lots of great neighborhoods with walkable, cute little downtowns and great public schools.

I got a little spoiled, I think, because my mom watched Nolan both Saturday and Sunday while KB and I did the real estate tours and the meet-and-greets with the radiology folks. I got to have adult conversations without being interrupted seventeen times, I got to sit down and eat an entire meal that wasn't lukewarm, and I got to drink alcoholic beverages. It was pretty sweet. So the transition back to real life here was a tough one. It was like, "Oh yeah. Just me and Pint Size here all day, by ourselves. Fabulous."

He's getting very defiant, my little man. It's like someone whispered in his ear while he was sleeping "You're supposed to be a toddler now, kiddo. Enough with the sweet compliant baby attitude - you gotta start individuating, man! Let's hear some rebellion!" And he listened.

It's not just the saying, "No!" all the time (although he's excellent at that), it's more that he's willfully disobeying me, like, all the time. He'll look right at me and keep doing whatever it is I've asked him not to do, and when I go over to remove him from the forbidden item (like our Christmas tree) he laughs and squeals like it's all a big game. I think (alright, honestly? I know for a fact) I inherited a bit of a temper from my dad, and I get worried that I won't be able to control myself when Nolan's pushing my buttons like that. Not that I would ever hit him, that's not it, but that I'll yell and scream and say things I really don't mean and scar him for life.


I gotta check out what some of the parenting books say on discipline. I guess this is going to be my parenting M.O. - play it by ear until you run out of ideas, and then consult the oracles for help.

So now we just have to wait to hear from the radiology groups. Hopefully we'll have an offer (or maybe, hoping against hope, two offers) by the end of this week. I think KB feels good that we've done as much as we can to make a good impression on these groups, and now we just have to leave it in their hands. Yipe. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lottery or car crash, or you'll join a cult

Welp, we've got one more trip down to Dirty Jers, and then (hopefully, possibly, maybe) that will be the end of the job search. KB will (hopefully, possibly, maybe) get an offer from one of the groups that we liked in an locale that we liked and that liked us.

And then we'll know where the heck we're going to be moving to in six months or so. Hopefully. Possibly. Maybe.

So we're flying down tomorrow night (thank god the group is paying for our trip - I don't think I could do another six-hour drive) and coming back Sunday night, and KB will have done two second interviews and I will have done two real-estate tours and two getting-to-know-you dinners and my mom will have had some serious Nolan quality time.

Wish us luck!

Oh, and we finally took our holiday picture. Huzzah!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Y'all are brutalizing me

The Christmas card onslaught has begun. We haven't even taken the friggin' picture yet for our cards (ack! Less than three weeks!) and we've already received six cards from those early birds who are, you know, organized and shit. (Including one from my friend in Portugal. I think she must have sent it in October or something).

The one that threw me was from one of my aunts - it was a perfectly ordinary Christmas card, written and addressed by the mom who signs all the family's names, but the stamp on the envelope says "Stop Family Violence" and has a stereotypical kids crayon-style drawing of a stick-figure house and sun, but with a sad, frowning kid in the foreground.

I'm sure my aunt bought the stamps for a good cause - probably some portion of the proceeds went to charities that fight domestic violence or something like that - but, yeesh. Nothing says Christmas like Family Violence, I guess.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

But the fire is so delightful

It finally snowed yesterday. Yay! I say "finally" only because this entire fall has been unseasonably warm, in the 50s and 60s, and while that's not entirely unpleasant, per se, it does seem a bit odd. Kind of fills me with a vague sense of unease, a certain wrong-ness, like maybe there's something to this whole global warming thing. Ya think?

Speaking of a vague sense of unease*...we spent the weekend after turkey day with a side branch of the extended family tree, and there were some major inter-family fracases (fracasses? fracasees?) happening while we were there. Major to the tune of us being woken up at one in the morning by people downstairs screaming "Don't you dare! Don't you dare!" and loud thumping noises and someone at the top of the stairs screaming, "What the fuck is going on down there?"

What the fuck indeed. To be honest, it was sort of refreshing, in a way - my own family is probably filled with just as much resentment and ill will as this particular family is, we just tighten our assholes and keep everything bottled up and seethe quietly to ourselves (or complain behind each other's backs), whereas these people just let it all fly. I was sort of taken aback that they felt no compunction whatsoever about fighting (at one in the morning! drunk!) in front of the relative strangers that we constitute to them, and that no one bothered to mention it the next day when we all convened for pancakes in the morning, preferring instead to go breezily about their day as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, but I was also sort of envious that they felt free enough to just...scream at each other.

Aaaaand we were down in Dirty Jers the week after that (last week) for one more round of job interviews. KB met with four more groups, three of which he's really really jazzed about, so if any of them offer him a position, we'll probably end up taking it (and if more than one of them does, we'll have some major decision-making to do). It was an exhausting week, with rounds of "meeting the group" dinners and real-estate agent tours of towns every day, not to mention the fact that the whole family came down with the plague. Actually, Nolan was fine, it was just KB and me who were on death's door. He even was forced to cancel one of his interviews to stay home (at my mom's) on Wednesday, he felt so crappy. It was really a bummer, since we were all just sick a couple of weeks ago. But we got to see Nana (my mom) and Nolan learned how to say "Hello?" to the telephone, and we saw my grandfather and my aunt and cousins, so it wasn't all work. Nolan and I spent a LOT of time in the car with the real estate agents, plus the five hour drives down and back with KB, so we're all happy to be home again.

And now, let the usual time of holiday franticness begin! Take a family holiday picture! Soon! So we have time to order Christmas cards online! And mail them out! Hurry! I've started looking for presents in all the catalogs we got in the mail while we were gone, and I realized that, without exception, every single one of them is labelled something like, "Last-Minute Holidays 2006" or "Order by Dec. 22 for Christmas delivery!" or "It's Not Too Late!" And I think, "It better not be too late, motherfuckers, I just started!"

Thanks for reading.

*Nice blend, Fozzie - thank you, Fozzie!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

So I know you've all been breathless with anticipation for the next installment of The Development Next Door. I can feel the keen excitement vibrating over the ether. Truly.

But unfortunately, there's really not much to report.

We had a community meeting at the neighborhood church last Wednesday night, which was supposed to be a forum where all the people who live on the street could express their feelings about the proposed re-zoning. I don't know what we were thinking - if you'll recall my last post on the subject, my ineffectual tirade against people who don't care enough to attend a City Council meeting - I don't know why we thought holding another meeting was the answer. Which is a roundabout way of saying nobody came. Or not nobody, exactly, but very few people. The developers came, of course, and brought their lawyer with them, which I didn't think was really in the "neighborhood meeting" spirit, but then, they didn't ask me.

There was much arguing, and much interrupting of each other, but it remained mostly civilized and well-behaved, if with a seething undercurrent of animosity. Our awesome City Councillor had the flu, so it was truly amazing that he even showed up to run the meeting, which he did.

The developers and their lawyer pretty much monopolized the discussion and tried to make the issue that they stood to lose a lot of money if the street was rezoned, and how unfair it was to them to do this. They kept talking about what a nice project it was going to be and how good it would be for the neighborhood ("We're not going to cut down ALL the trees..."). Whether that's true or not, I don't really think that's the issue. Our little street can't support five more townhouses - we don't have the sewer and water resources, we don't have room for the traffic increase, and we can't afford to lose the green space. The whole point of re-zoning the street is to keep ANY future development, no matter how well-intentioned, from happening, because the street (technically, it's not even a street, it's a Lane - we don't even have sidewalks) can't support it.

But this developer couple (it's a husband and wife team - the husband is Chinese and an architect/engineer, I guess, and the wife is Caucasian and a duplicitous pain in the ass) are trying to make people feel sorry for them, because they have been so greviously wronged, you see. The bought the property, which was advertised to them as being Residence B and thus capable of being developed, in good faith, and NO ONE TOLD THEM that the city was thinking about re-zoning it. This despite the numerous flyers I peppered the neighborhood with and the numerous letters the City Councillor has sent out. You see, they don't get the mail there. They bought the property, but they don't live there. They're not ever planning on living there, even if they get to build their five condos. And yet they still have the audacity to address those of us who live on the street as their neighbors.

So anyway. Nothing much was decided or accomplished at this meeting. I said I thought it was disingenuous of the developers to pretend that they were trying to make the neighborhood a better place when what they were really about was making money. The pain-in-the-ass wife said that they would be lucky to make even a very small amount of money on this project, and then later in the meeting the husband let slip that they stood to make in the vicinity of $200,000 in their worst-case scenario. So I guess that's not much money to them.

(Side note: Two people in the neighborhood who are on my "side" in this issue have spoken to me in seperate conversations about the developers and, during the course of the discussion, referred to the husband as "The Chinaman." Each time that happened, all I could think the rest of the conversation was, "Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature...")

The meeting where the City Council has to vote on the re-zoning proposal is December 4th, which is coming up quick. I don't know if anyone else on the street is planning on stepping up and making some noise, but I'm guessing probably not, judging by the lack of attendance at the neighborhood meeting. If people aren't willing to walk half a block to the church to talk about this issue, they're probably not going to write letters or make phone calls to the City Councillors. *sigh*

The other sort of blech thing is that I told our City Councillor that we were probably going to be moving next summer. I felt dishonest not telling him when it's virtually a certainty - a lie of omission, basically. And of course I got all worked up about it and started blubbering when I was talking to him. Poor guy. He had the flu and just wanted to go home and go to bed, and here's me sniffling and snupping and generally getting way too emotional. He was very understanding and said he was sorry to hear that we would be leaving. I tried to tell him what a great public servant I thought he was and just ended up blubbering some more. I hate that I do that. I felt like I was in 10th grade again trying to talk to Mr. Kathan the Scary Physics Teacher about my test grade. Ugh.

So that's that with that. I guess we'll see what happens on the 4th.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fat bottom girls, you make the rockin' world go 'round

This is awesome.

Tell 'em Penn says hi.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Thursday night your stockings needed mending

So I've been at this mom gig for almost a year and a half now.

The pay is for shit, but the non-salary benefits are pretty awesome. I don't know about my boss, though. The language barrier's been a big hurdle for us. He's a bit of a tyrant at times, and I'm not sure he appreciates how hard I work for him. He never gives me any kind of feedback on the quality of my work, so I'm always sort of winging it. And the overtime! I feel like I never have a day off.

But I guess I'll keep at it. You know how bad it looks on your resume if you leave a job after only eighteen months.


1. I have cleaned out my jeans pockets while getting undressed to go to bed and found Goldfish cracker crumbs.

2. I have stepped barefoot onto a Lego in my child's darkened room and had to stifle the urge to scream in pain so as not to wake him.

3. I have had my "morning constitutional" with my child sitting on my lap because he won't leave me alone in the bathroom for even a minute.

4. I have found the lost sippy cup rolling around on the floor of the car and opened it to discover days-old milk well on its way to becoming some sort of feta-like cheese.

5. I have spit on a tissue and used it to clean my child's face.

6. I have used the five-second rule to determine whether to allow my child to eat food that's fallen on the floor.

7. I have endured the looks of old ladies in the supermarket while my child throws a screaming tantrum because I won't let him have a particular item (in this case, a balloon. Damn floral department.)

8. I have cleaned up boogers, poop, pee, puke, tears, blood and pretty much any other human effluvium you can think of except for the one that's exclusively the domain of males and we're not even gonna go there because my boy's only a toddler, for Christ's sake.

9. I have sternly told my child, "No!" and then walked into another room to release my stifled giggles because whatever it was he did was incredibly cute, but I didn't want him to see me laugh 'cause that'll just encourage him.

10. I have unapologetically told a disapproving (male) passenger on a plane that it was not within my power whether my child cried or not, but it WAS within his power whether he was a dick or not.


1. I have never yet had the opportunity to say "Because I said so."

2. I have never yet been to the emergency room. For my child, anyway.

3. I have not had to make an asparagus costume for the school play that's tomorrow.

4. I have not had to stay up until 2 a.m. waiting for my child to come home from a party.

5. I have not had to talk to my child about sex, or death, or God.

6. I have not had to teach my child to drive.

7. I have not had to watch my child walk away from me on the first day of kindergarten and resist the powerful urge to grab him up, cradle him in my arms and run shrieking into the wilderness to live like Walt Whitman and hide from the evils of society.

8. I have not had to shush my child while riding public transportation when he asks, "Why is that lady/man/person so fat/dirty/smelly?" and try to quietly explain to him while throwing apologetic smiles at the fat dirty smelly person.

9. I have not had to buy any cookies, candy, wrapping paper or magazines to support my child's sport, school club, or scout troop.

10. I have not had more than one child and have never had to endure the eternal "Mine!" and "He's touching me!" dramas.

I'm sure there's lots more, but ten seemed like a nice round number, and those were the ones I thought of.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Don't sleep in the subway, darling

Overall, I was pretty pleased with the results of last week's elections. We didn't exactly stay up til all hours biting our nails and waiting for the results of Virginia and Montana to see if the Democrats would take the Senate in addition to the House, but we did manage to sit through a couple hours of CNN's "America Votes 2006" coverage, which is saying something for us. I can't watch any "real" news anymore without cracking up at the self-important music*, the swooping camera effects, and the pompous commentators. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert have finely-tuned their parody/satire/fawning copy of the straight news so well that everything on CNN feels like a joke to me.

I was, however, bummed that Question 1 didn't pass here in the Bay State. Apparently, all the big liquor stores contributed a lot of corporate money to the "No" side of the debate and tried to scare people into thinking their kids would be in mortal danger from all the drunk drivers sure to be on the road after buying their beer at Shaw's, instead of having to WALK NEXT DOOR (oh, the humanity!) and buy it at the drugstore. *sigh* I really don't care too much one way or the other, but it would have been nice to be able to get wine at our Trader Joe's, for pete's sake. Having grown up in a state where they have DRIVE-THROUGH LIQUOR STORES, for the love of christ, I can't see how having wine available at grocery stores is really such a big deal.

I'm glad the Democrats did so well. I don't think they really had as much to do with their victory as the Republicans did, though. I saw Bill Maher on Larry King talking about it, and he put it best:

"What Democrats have to take away from this -- and I think they already have learned this lesson -- is that it wasn't really a victory for you. It reminded me of the World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals didn't really win, the Detroit Tigers lost it. Every game I tuned in, the Tigers were throwing the ball over the infield, over people's heads. The Cardinals just stood on the field and won.

That's sort of where the Democrats are. Let's see if you can win an election against a party that hasn't disgraced itself so horribly in every single way a party could disgrace itself."

When we found out Rumsfeld had resigned, KB and I actually high-fived each other. As if we had something to do with it. Like when your favorite sports team beats a rival and you say, "We won!" You didn't do anything. Your team won and you watched them, that's all.

But I'm still happy.

Thanks for reading.

*Have you seen "Broadcast News"? If you haven't, drop what you're doing (or at least open a new window in your browser) and add it to your Netflix list, for the love of all that is holy. It is one of the most quotable movies EVER, and worth watching just for the very short segment where Marc Shaiman (and some other guy) play the News Theme Writers who are pitching a new theme song for the news to the producer. It's hilarious.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Who put the ram in the ramma-lamma-ding-dong?

Hey, kids!

Happy Halloween from me and my little monkey. We ARE planning on doing the whole trick-or-treat thang this evening, and I will let you know how it goes. We will, of course, confiscate any candy Nolan receives and eat it ourselves, like the mean horrible parents we are.

He is a pretty amazing little guy, I have to say. He's talking a LOT, both gibberish and perfectly understandable words. His current fave is "no," said in a sort of adenoidal dragged-out whine, like, "Nnngoooooo..." which he says in reply to any question, whether he actually means "no" or not. He's also fond of "ball," "balloon," "bird," "bubble," and "bear," so I guess he's got the "b" sound down pat. "Mama" and "Dada" are perennial favorites, particularly at 6am when he refuses to recognize daylight savings time and is ready to get up for the day.

He came up with a new "word" that he uses to mean "here is another thing just like this one" when pointing to objects. He'll point to one star, for example, and say, "Gah!," which is "star" in Nolan-ese, and then I'll say, "Yes, that's a star," and then he'll point to another star and go, "A-diddle-diddle," and I'll say, "Yes, that's a star, too." It took me a while to figure out what he meant, because it was a word for a concept rather than a noun. Clearly, he's a genius.

He also snores and talks in his sleep, which is hilarious and adorable and makes my heart feel all squeezy in my chest.

As you can see, he's a monkey for Halloween (at a party last Friday a couple people thought he was a mouse, hence the addition of the prop banana). We're heading over to some friends' neighborhood to trick-or-treat with them, so we won't be home to answer our door, but I'm not too upset about that since we only ever used to get two or three groups of people anyway.

I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 16, 2006

It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?

What the fuck is it with people in this country?

(Warning: Broad generalizations ahead.)

People just don't want to get involved, god dammit.

(And yeah, I know, I've been non-blogging for almost a month and I need to 'splain where I been and what I been doing, but I'll get to that later - I don't have time for that right now, I'm pissed off.)

Here's what's going on:

The whole development thang.

Yes, I know, I KNOW that's all I talk about. But it's preying on my mind, people!

In the short term, we - we meaning KB and I and our immediate concerns about developers building in this neighborhood - have scored a victory. As I talked about in my last post. No one will be building in this neighborhood for almost a year, thanks to a city-wide moratorium on building in Residence B-zoned neighborhoods. So we're free and clear. We're gonna be moving when KB finishes his residency in June of Ought Seven, so we'll be well outta here before that happens. (Where we'll actually BE is another post altogether. One thing at a time. Patience, grasshopper.)

So we're fine. Nothing's gonna affect us; no big construction vehicles will be growling up the street while we're here, waking Nolan up from his nap; there will be no before-and-after surveys of our house to determine if the foundation was damaged by any blasting in the area.

But I continue to work on trying to get the neighborhood re-zoned, from Residence B to Residence A, which would mean no more multi-unit developments.

Why?, I hear you ask. Why bother if you're not going to be living there in nine months? Why fight for a street that you won't be living on when the changes you're fighting for actually take effect? That's a good question.

And I'm not sure I know the answer. I guess the short answer is that I still care about this street. This is still the place where KB and I got married in our backyard. This is still the hill I lumbered up while nine months pregnant with Nolan, walking back from work. This is still the street where I've made friends, talked with my neighbors, taken Nolan for walks, been startled by raccoons, where we've lived, dammit! Just because I'm moving away doesn't mean I don't still care about what happens in the future.

So I've been trying to help our awesome city councillor get the street re-zoned. But it seems there's some opposition, mainly from the developers and land speculators who have bought property on the street and plan to tear down the houses on the land and build condominiums. And these people have money. And laywers. And they stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if the zoning changes go through. So of course they're fighting with all they've got.

But I've been diligently going around the neigborhood, handing out my little flyers, trying to get people to go to the City Council meeing and the Planning Board meeting and Speak. The. Fuck. Up. And people say they will. People say they really REALLY don't want more developments on our street.

And yet they don't come to the meetings. Or they do come, but they don't stand up to be counted.

There was a Planning Board meeting last Wednesday night. KB and Nolan and I were in Dirty Jers for some more job interviews, so we couldn't be there. I told our Councillor I wouldn't be there, but that I would draft a letter to the members of the planning board for him to read at the meeting. Then I walked around our neighborhood and spoke to a number of people about the importance of this meeting and the fact that I wouldn't be there, so some other people needed to step up and attend.

So here's what I'm pissed off about (You mean you have a point? Huzzah!): People told me they were going to go to this meeting. I personally spoke to six people, five of whom told me they would be at the meeing and would SPEAK UP about their support for the re-zoning (and one of whom was going to be out of the country at the time, which pretty much trumped my out-of-state excuse). And yet I hear from my city councillor that exactly one person spoke up. One. Out of all the people on my street who say they are so opposed to new developments. One.

And yeah, one person can make a difference. One person is important. But tonight, at the City Council hearing (where they were supposed to vote on this issue but instead continued it until the next meeting because it is such a contentious issue) the numbers counted. The opposition showed up with a signed petition from five residents of the street, which is all they need (20% of the property owners on the street) to make it even harder to pass the re-zoning.

And nobody else from "our" side showed up but me. And KB. Which really, REALLY bummed me out.

(Pause for breath.)

And now, the broad generalization. I think people in the U.S. think of politics as a vocation. A job. Like, "What do you wanna be when you grow up, Timmy?" "I wanna be a plumber!" "How about you, little Billy?" "I wanna be President!" "Awwwwwww, isn't that cute? Little Billy wants to be President! And maybe you will someday, Billy. Maybe you will." And if it's not your job, if you're a plumber and not a politician, you should just stay the fuck out of things and mind your own business. We don't try to tell the heart surgeon how to hold the scalpel, and we don't mess with the politicians when they're passing their bills and molesting their underage pages (sorry, I couldn't resist).

But here's the thing. Politics isn't a job. It's not just for the politicians. Everybody has to get involved in politics or it doesn't work. The decisions that the politicians make affect everybody, not just other politicians. I know it doesn't seem that way sometimes, but it's true. And people in the U.S. get all bogged down with their own individual lives - who's gonna take the kids to soccer practice? - what am I gonna make for dinner tonight? - does this skirt make my ass look fat? - that they forget that the public arena is important, too. (I have now written the word "politicians" so many times it's starting to look weird to me.)

I had this friend in graduate school (who I still consider a very dear friend, I just don't get to see him much anymore) from Argentina who used to piss me off royally when I first knew him. Every time there was some issue in the department, some disagreement, he would argue with incredible passion. He would say inflammatory things and make sweeping judgements and get really really worked up about things (or so it seemed to me). He would accuse the administration of the school of conspiring to make our lives difficult and basically raise hell. Because where he comes from, everybody knows you have to get in there and have your say or you're going to get trampled on. No one is guaranteed to have any affect on the outcome of decisions, so people know they have to MAKE their voices heard if they want to be heard.

And it's not like that here. I don't know if we take things for granted, or we don't see the connection between our own individual actions and larger society, or what, but we tend to keep our heads down and our mouths shut. We don't care about what happens to our neighbors or what is for the greater good, we just care about getting what's ours, and fuck everybody else.

And not like I'm all high and mighty Miss Social Change 2006. I only got involved in all of this because I didn't want to live next to a construction site for the next nine months. My initiative was totally motivated by self-interest. I have no illusions about that.

But these people, these people who live on my street, my neighbors, they SAY they don't want anymore developments. They SAY they don't want to have big trucks on the street and water runoff problems and more traffic and less green space. But they aren't even willing to show up at a city meeting and SAY what they want. Because it might interfere with their watching the ball game. Or doing the laundry. Or whatever the fuck.

And that just makes me sad. Why don't we care enough?

Am I just being totally naive?

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hit the fuckin' road and piss up a rope


We totally won! The developer guy gave up! He's going away! Huzzah!

We went to a meeting last night of our town's Conservation Commission, where the developer was supposed to find out whether the Conservation Commission's rules applied to the land next door where he wants to build. We went around our neighborhood with flyers on Sunday to try to get some people to show up, because we thought this could be a big deal - at the very least, if the guy had to follow the Commission's rules, it would delay his project for a while, and at best it could cancel it altogether. (There's a stream that runs down the back of all the property on our side of the street that may qualify as "wetlands" according to the Massachusetts General Laws).

So we showed up expecting it to be another battle in a long drawn-out war. There were a couple people from the neighborhood already there, and when they saw us they came over and said that the chair of the commission had announced that Loser Developer had withdrawn his petition for determination of applicability. And we were like, "What does that mean?" He's stalling for time? He's thinking he doesn't have to abide by the commission's rules? What?

And we were sort of standing around in the hallway outside the hearing room discussing it when Loser Developer himself came out and told us he wasn't going to pursue the project anymore. He said they didn't think it was worth putting any more money into it because they weren't going to be able to build as many units as they needed to make a profit. Plus he said, and I quote, "I don't wanna fight the neighborhood."

That's me! That's us! We're the neighborhood! He doesn't want to fight us!


We totally made a difference.

So our city councillor was there, too, and after the developer dude left, he gave me a hug and said how lucky we were that it turned out this way, that situations like this don't usually turn out so well. He's sponsoring a resolution in the city council to re-zone our entire street to single family houses only, which would mean no more developments ever (yay!), so we're still going to work with him to get that passed - there's a hearing for that next month.

So my first foray into local politics has turned out well! Not only is the developer going away, but I got to meet lots of people in my neighborhood and feel like something I did had an impact. Even better, we didn't have to use the lawyer to get the result we'd hoped for.

It was hard for me to do some of that stuff - walking around knocking on people's doors and trying to convince them to be on my side is really REALLY hard for me. Getting up and speaking at that Zoning hearing was hard for me. Not freaking out and backing down after the guy came to my house and threatened me was hard for me. I feel like, at the advanced age of 32, I've learned something about the value of working hard for an issue you care about. If I'd done nothing two months ago when we first found out about this, it's very likely that they would have gotten their zoning variance approved and they would have already started construction (in my first conversation with the developer's local flunkie he mentioned starting September 15th). And I'd be miserable.

But instead I managed to do the things that were hard for me and overcome my vast reserves of social anxiety because I really didn't want this development to happen. It's funny - I was saying to our Councillor - I've never gotten involved with anything like this before, probably because nothing had ever impacted me personally before. But now that I've seen a little bit of how city politics work (and I'm sure the encouragement of a good end result helps, too) I feel like I want to keep doing things like this. KB and I have said that, whenever we end up where we're going to end up, we need to get involved big time.

The big loser here is the real estate speculator who bought the land from the people who used to live there. He was the one the developer was going to buy it from, and now that they're not going to, he's kind of screwed. I don't feel bad for him, though - if that's how you make your living, you've got to be prepared for some elements of risk, right?

Thanks for reading.

*And by "dude," I mean, of course, my tens of loyal readers.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The first time I smoked...guess what? Paranoid.

So I had a birthday last week. I am now officially well into my 30's and fast approaching the time where, when I sell my first screenplay, the trades will not call me a "tyro" screenwriter anymore. Sigh.

Nolan and I were down in NJ the week before last, and, as predicted, there was plenty of drama. It was hard to be away from KB for a whole week, but we did get to see a lot of family and eat lots of food, so it wasn't a total wash.

Then this past week my friend Rose was here visiting, which was awesome. We took Nolan to the aquarium on Monday, which he enjoyed thoroughly (although not, perhaps, as much as his mommy did). But the big hit for him was the balloon he got from Cheers, where we had lunch. They didn't let us take it into the aquarium (I guess because if it popped and got into one of the penguin exhibits a penguin could eat it and DIE), so we had to check the balloon, which was tied to Nolan's sweatshirt, at the coat check. So when we came out of the aquarium I had to give the coat check guy my little ticket and say, "It's the balloon," which I thought was nice and dada-esque.*

Tuesday night KB and Rose and I went out for my birthday, and I was reminded of how little tolerance for drinking I have these days. Out of practice, I guess. I was totally hung over the next morning. Yuck.

Both Rose and KB left Wednesday - Rose for NYC and a wedding, and KB for New Jersey and a job interview. So Nolan and I were on our own for the rest of the week, which I guess we should be used to at this point, but which still kind of sucks.

Then Saturday we're all flying to Omaha to visit Pappy and Grandma for a week. So we'll be gone again, but hopefully for a more restful visit. They volunteered to Nolan-sit for one night so KB and I could have a date night, which will be nice. When I talked to my dad yesterday he asked, "Do you want us to fill up the hot tub for you guys?" and I thought, "Is this a trick question?"

So. Yeah. That's the cliff notes version of the last two weeks. I've got another Development Next Door thing this Wednesday night - the Conservation Commission is having a public hearing regarding whether there is Conservation Commission jurisdiction on that property. So I'm hoping to get lots of neighbors to show up again to speak against the development.

And I need to get Nolan's fifteen months old pictures out. Already, the querying e-mails are coming - "Where are the new pictures?" So it seems like I've got a lot on my plate.

And now I'm old. Older. Alas.

Thanks for reading.

*I thought of that Salvador Dali quote, or rather, Penn and Teller's rephrasing of that Salvador Dali quote, "So little of what might happen, does happen." Which they took to mean that Dali was wondering why, when he orders dinner, he's never served a flaming telephone book. (I'm totally paraphrasing from "How To Play With Your Food"). I thought this situation was pretty similar - give a coat check guy your claim ticket and you get a balloon tied to a child's sweatshirt.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you

Going to drive down to Dirty Jers with Nolan tomorrow - my mom is flying up here from Philly, we're picking her up at the airport, and then we're all three driving back down to her place (can you tell this is her first and only grandchild? The things she's willing to do, I swear.) Let's hope we don't encounter too much of Hurricane John or Tropical Storm Kristy on the drive. (Kristy? KRISTY? It sounds like we'll be attacked with huge hair-sprayed bangs and frosted eye shadow instead of weather.)

So we'll be gone for a week. KB is staying here in Beantown as he has his first big board exam on Friday the 8th. He'll have a week of bachelorhood and old-fashioned cramming for his test. It will be good in a way that we'll be gone so he can focus, but we're going to miss him a lot.

Nolan and I will stay with my mom and visit lots of family, so there will be plenty of potential for conflama* because of all the various goings-on with the fam. My aunt on my dad's side is visiting my grandparents with two of her sons (and apparently some girlfriends? Or something?) from Spokane, and my stepsister and her boyfriend have also moved back to the East coast from Ohio and have been staying with the same grandmother but have now been booted out because of my aunt's visit and are staying with my other aunt and uncle for a few days while they look for their own place to live. Everybody clear on that?

So prolly no posts for a week or so. Unless I get really bored one day at my mom's.

Thanks for reading.

*I actually used that word on the phone with my aunt, Dru, and she was like, "What? Con-what?" I forgot it's not really a real word.

UPDATE: Okay, I just want to point out that I'm not really an idiot - I just didn't realize Hurricane John was in the Pacific Ocean and thus there was really no chance that we'd run into any John-related problems driving down the East Coast. Apparently, it was Hurricane Ernesto (or what was left of him) that gave us all the rain and wind and giant tree branches crashing down onto the Merritt Parkway 40 feet in front of us that we just barely avoided. My mistake. (By the by, why is the hurricane in the ocean off of Mexico named John, while the one on the East Coast is Ernesto?)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm not the world's most passionate man

I go to a free yoga class at the Y every Tuesday night, when I can. KB keeps Tuesday nights open on his work calendar so he's home and I can go. It doesn't work out every week - if there's something else I have to do (like, say, a Zoning Board Hearing) then I don't make it. But I try to go as often as I can.

I went tonight, and because it's the Y and it's free (if you're a member), there are certain things about the class that aren't the greatest. The room, for example. We meet in the gymnasium, which is used during the day for kids' activities, and by the time our class rolls around at 7:30pm, the floor is a fairly gross minefield of assorted food crumbs and various manifestations of dirt. You usually have to shake your mat out after class before you roll it up, lest you bring some nice dried mud and Cheez-It crumbs home with you.

Also, because it is a gym, the room is cavernous, and sometimes our instructor's voice seems to float away into the ether. We'll be holding a pose and I'll start to think, "Gee, we've been in Downward Dog for a long time," and then I look around and realize everyone has moved on to a Sun Salutation and I just didn't hear her say anything.

But, on the plus side, the instructor is a very nice fifty-ish hippie lady with dyed black hair and lots of scarves and interesting shoes, and the class itself is fairly slow-paced and very relaxing. Nothing too strenuous. I always feel pleasantly loose and floaty when class is over, like my spine is back in its rightful position and I can breathe properly again. So that's good. And it's free.

Tonight the problem was The New Guy. Now, The New Guy isn't necessarily always a guy - it can be a girl. Because this is an ongoing, free, drop-in-as-you-please kind of class, the cast of regulars undergoes some shifting on a pretty constant basis, although there's a few of us who have been there since they started offering it. Every couple weeks or so, we'll get somebody who's never done yoga before, and, perhaps more importantly ('cause I'd never done yoga before this class, despite living in SoCal for six years) really has no idea what yoga entails. Sometimes this new person watches and learns and fits themselves into the rhythm of the class, and sometimes...sometimes not.

So The New Guy tonight was as stereotypical a Big Dumb New England Guy as they come. Fat, tall, giant belly, crew cut, Red Sox sweatshirt, everything. Physically, he reminded me of no one so much as Bobby Baccalieri, except with the "pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd" accent instead of the Joisey accent. I don't know what exactly made him think yoga might be the thing for him, but I could tell from the beginning of class that he was going to be a problem.

He talked. A lot. To himself, ("Oooooh, I'm outta shape.") to the teacher, ("Like this?" about EVERY move), to other students, ("This is where we're supposed to let go of all our worries, huh?") to nobody in particular ("This mat is too small for me.") It was tremendously annoying. Did he just not notice that NO ONE ELSE IS TALKING EXCEPT FOR THE TEACHER?

I don't know why some people don't...I don't know, observe first, before trying to impose their personality on a group they're trying to join. I can't think of the right way to say it...I guess because when I'm entering a new situation, I tend to observe the other people and see how they're acting and try to work with the way things seem to be going. Not that I'm a great model of how to be sociable and interact with other people - heck, I'm not even a mediocre model of that. I just mean - I guess I mean that there are rules, dammit, and you should watch and try to figure out the rules before you go blundering around smashing them all to hell.

So here comes this big dumb lummox of a guy talking a blue streak and groaning noisily and sitting too close to the teacher so half the room can't see her and FARTING, not once but twice and not even excusing himself or acknowledging it in any way, and it was excruciating.

At one point, when we were in Downward Dog he said, "This is kind of like you're gonna hike a football," and it was such a stereotypical big dumb lummox-y thing to say that I started to laugh. And then it was like when you're laughing in church and you know you're not supposed to and that just makes you laugh harder. Luckily I was able to get myself under control - I think if I had made eye contact with anyone else in the class I would have lost it, but it's pretty hard to make eye contact with someone in Downward Dog. Plus, it's really not like hiking a football. AT ALL. I tried really hard to find some sympathy for the guy in my heart, to think open-minded, loving, yoga-esque thoughts like, "We are all human beings here" and "He deserves to be here just as much as the rest of us," but it was pretty hard.

Even the farting isn't so awful that I can't forgive it. I mean, it's a natural bodily function, it's 75% involuntary, I'd say, and when you put your body in a certain position sometimes, sure, you're gonna fart. What are you gonna do? I can get past that (although it does make it hard to "breathe deeply on the next inhale" as our teacher would have us do). It's the voluntary things, like talking all the time and trying to constantly command the teacher's attention (when there are 8 other students in the room with you) that drive me crazy.

So I'm guessing he won't be back. He was probably just as uncomfortable as we were and knew he wasn't fitting in. In a way I felt bad and felt like I was being part of the Cool School crowd and ostracizing the New Kid, but mostly I was just pissed off.

He was fucking with my relaxation, god dammit!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Maybe get a blister on your little finger

So we got a new fridge today. Our old fridge, which came with the house when we bought it three years ago, has been making these alarming "Rnrnrnrnrnrnrnr"* noises periodically, and food seems to be going bad much more quickly than it really ought to. Massachusetts had a tax-free shopping weekend on the 12th and 13th, plus Sears had a special promotion where you get 12% back on any appliance over $299, so we (or rather, I) went and got us a new refridge.

I went and looked up fridges in Consumer Reports at the library first, since we're too cheap to get a subscription. It's always a dicey proposition taking Nolan to the adult portion of the library (and by adult, I don't mean "All Holes Filled With Hard Cock" adult, I mean the non-children's portion of the library where there's no playhouses or parakeets and shrieking and crying are generally frowned upon) because I can never tell how long he'll be able to amuse himself. Somtimes I can give him a toy (with wheels, of course) and he'll be good for twenty minutes, just sitting in his stroller while I do my research, but sometimes he flings the toy away after 2 minutes and starts with the whining and the fussing and the crying and the Oy! My head!

This time when we went there was a guy sitting at the big table in the Reference section, and when I pulled up with Nolan in the stroller he gave me that look that people sometimes give you when you have a child with you, like I'd just flung a slab of rotting, diseased meat onto his notebook and told him to lick it. Sort of "You're not going to bring THAT in here where I'm working, are you?" So we made it quick. I found the Consumer Reports on refridgerators and found the best recommendation on a basic, no-frills fridge, wrote down the model number, and we got the heck out of there. Nolan was pretty good, but the guy still gave us the stink eye a couple times.

I went to Sears at 8:30 that night, after KB was home from work and Nolan was in bed. I figured, even with the tax-free shopping weekend, most people wouldn't want to spend their Saturday nights looking at appliances at Sears. I guess I'm not a good judge of what "most people" like to do, because Sears was friggin' PACKED. There was a wait just to talk to a salesperson, when usually when you go to the appliance section there are at least five salespeople circling around like sharks waiting for the chum.

So I stood by the model I wanted and tried to catch the eye of a salesperson walking around with other customers. I finally saw a guy who was helping these two women who were taking forever to decide ("I don't know, Delores...this one only has one temperature control for both the fridge and the freezer...") and said to him, "I know exactly what I want and I'm going to buy it right now. It will take you five minutes max and you can get back to these ladies." So he checked with them and they said, "Sure," and off we went. It was like:



"Take away old model?"


"Extended warranty?"


"Here's your total."

"Here's my card."

"Here's your receipt."

And we were done.

I was all excited because the model I ordered had a water filter and ice maker included, even though it was a pretty no-frills model, and I was looking forward to not having to fill up the Brita pitcher seventeen times a day.

Then when they delivered the fridge and set it up in the kitchen, it finally dawned on me: That water has to come from somewhere. The fridge doesn't make its own water, genius. You have to hook up a water line to it. Which of course we don't have because our old fridge didn't have it. So now we have this very nice, very new white Kenmore in our kitchen with no water line to attach to it. Oh well. It's still a nice fridge.

Thanks for reading.

*Think of that Simpsons episode where Homer refuses to go to church and Marge and the kids get stuck in the freezing cold because the car won't start - when Marge is trying to start the car and she's imitating the noise it's making? That's the noise our old fridge was making.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pumped a lot of pain down in New Orleans

Nolan loves wheels.

I say this in the manner of stating a fundamental law of the universe, like "Dogs love bacon," or "Guys love trucks" or whatever those stupid commercials were.

His favorite part of any trip to anywhere is looking at the wheels on cars as we're walking to or from the parking lot. We went to a local beach a couple weeks ago - nothing special, just a lake with a small sand beach and a playground - but I was like, "Nolan, look! Seagulls! Water, Nolan! Sand!" and all he wanted to do was look at the wheels on the cars in the parking lot. He has to pat every wheel he sees in an attempt to spin it; it doesn't matter how big (or dirty) the wheel in question, he'll cry, "Ehh!" and his little hand will stroke the surface, trying to get the wheel to rotate.

We've been using his little umbrella stroller almost exclusively lately because it's smaller, lighter and easier for me to maneuver, but while Mom was here we got the big stroller out of the basement in case he wanted to lay down for a nap while we were out and about (the umbrella stroller doesn't recline). When he saw Mom bring the big stroller up from the basement, Nolan let out a squeal the likes of which I'd never heard before; it was like he'd found the Holy Grail, or seen a friend he hadn't seen in twenty years. He didn't even want to ride in it, he just wanted to spin the wheels. Now when I need a few minutes to do something baby-free, I can open up his big stroller on the living room floor and he'll play undistracted for a good twenty minutes or so. Such is the power of the wheel.

So today, Nolan had just eaten lunch (crackers, watermelon, swiss cheese and mixed vegetables, since you asked) and I was bracing myself for the dreaded post-prandial washcloth cleansing routine, in which I attempt to wipe off his face and hands and he screams like I'm ax-murdering him. His screams had a different quality today, however - he kept pointing* at me and saying "Eh!" over and over. He was trying to grab me, but since his hands were still dirty I wouldn't let him. I couldn't figure out what he wanted, and it was driving me crazy. (We do this little pantomime a lot - he says, "Eh!" and I point at various things in the room I think might be the item in question - "The light? The ball? The cat?" and when I get to the right one he's usually able to let me know via a more-excited "Eh!") I thought perhaps he was just anxious to get out of the highchair and play, and was pointing to me to say, "Get me down, woman!" but since I hadn't wiped him off yet, I wouldn't. The whole thing was very frustrating.

Finally I actually looked down at myself to see what he might be pointing at, and I realized I was wearing this They Might Be Giants t-shirt. With, of course, wheels on it. THAT's what he was freaking out about, he was trying to grab the wheel on my t-shirt. So once SuperDunce Mommy figured it out and held out the t-shirt so he could try to spin the wheel, Nolan calmed down and order returned to the universe.


It would be much easier if he spoke English.

On the bright side, communication-wise, he has learned the sign for "more," so he can ask for more of something when he's eating, and he'll also "moo" when I point to a picture of a cow. Although his "moo" is sort of lacking in the "oo" department and thus comes out more as "mmmmmm!" So maybe he's not moo-ing, maybe he's saying he'd like a nice juicy steak.

Thanks for reading.

*when Nolan points, he does so with his entire hand pinched into a kind of sign-language "e" instead of the traditional extended index finger. I'm not sure why.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Seesaw swingin' with the boys in school and your feet flyin' up in the air

So in all the hullaballoo surrounding the development next door I totally neglected to mention that Nolan took his first steps last week.

He can stand on his own for a pretty long time now, especially if he doesn't realize he's doing it. As soon as he figures out he's not holding on to anything, though, he immediately grabs something or sits down.

So last Thursday I just decided to stand him up on his own a couple feet away from me and see if he would walk to me. And he did! He got this big daredevil grin on his face, like, "Now I'm going to do something really dangerous!" and he took about three steps before he collapsed against me, laughing. We did it a couple more times and then he seemed to get tired of the novelty of it all and went back to crawling.

When KB got home we sat down on the floor a few feet apart and had Nolan walk back and forth between us a couple times. Each time he would be able to walk about three or four steps on his own before he'd start to teeter alarmingly and one of us would grab him. It was excellent fun. And when my mom was here last weekend we did the same thing so she could see him walking, which thrilled her to no end.

Now when we walk around with him holding onto my hands, he's much more stable and balanced. The holding onto my hands is more of a psychological thing than actual assistance at this point. Like Dumbo's feather.

So it won't be long now before he's tearing it up!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Politician granny with your high ideals, have you no idea how the majority feels?

We won the battle, but the war continues.

(Sorry to keep y'all waiting for this post - I didn't realize everyone was so interested! I needed a day yesterday to just decompress and not think about this for a little while.)

The development company withdrew their petition for a variance, which means they won't be able to build six townhouses next door. However, they are now planning on coming back with a plan to build five townhouses, which is the maximum allowable under the current zoning.

So I guess I was a little misleading in the last post when I said pray for the Zoning Board to deny the variance so I could stop writing about this. Because basically what happened is we bought ourselves a couple months' time while the development company goes back to the drawing board and comes up with a new plan. Which means the fight is going to continue, which means I'm going to keep writing about it. Alas.

The zoning hearing itself was pretty stressful for me. I was so tense the whole time that my jaw hurt the entire next day from clenching it so tightly.

Our case was third on the New Business portion of the agenda, so we had to sit through one Old Business case and two other New Business cases before they got to us. I don't know if you've ever been to a zoning hearing or any other kind of community meeting before, but suffice to say, if it doesn't concern you personally it's incredibly boring. We got there a little before 7pm (the hearing started at 7:15) and our case didn't come up until almost 9, so we were there for two hours just sitting and watching the board members debate.

The nice thing was that a LOT of people from the neighborhood showed up. People that I hadn't even spoken to personally, who just got my flyers, showed up. There were 18 people there to oppose the variance, which made me very happy. I was hoping for 10, so 18 was totally kick-ass.

The big bad developer guy had one of his flunkies sitting there in the meeting the whole time and I guess they asked for more time to get ready to present their case, because the board chairman announced that the last case would go before ours, which meant we had to wait even longer. I think they were hoping that people would get tired and go home. But nobody left.

And then when it was finally their turn to present their case, no one from their side was there to do it! The flunkie apparently went out to get the other guys, so the board had to call a recess while they waited for the dudes to show up. So lame.

So we all stood around chatting for about ten minutes, and I got to finally meet my excellent Ward Councillor and talk to him - what a great guy. He was very genuine and normal and really seemed to care about his job and representing his constituents' interests. Poor Nolan was so tired and getting cranky. KB had been entertaining him the whole time up until that point, but he was running out of distractions.

Nolan was playing on the floor by the door when the developer and his local buffoon (the one who harrassed me at home) finally came in, and I had the biggest rush of fierce protective instinct as they walked by him - every cell in my body was like, "Don't you fucking touch my child, you fucking goon!" It was at that point that the adrenaline fight-or-flight thang kicked in, so I was a massive bundle of nerves for the rest of the hearing.

The local doofus did the presenting of their case, which was so incredibly lame, it was almost laughable. They didn't even say what their hardship supposedly was - all the guy talked about was how if he was allowed to build these six townhouses he would bring a new water line to the street. At one point he started talking about the big bad developer's reputation being sullied (although "sullied" is much too sophisticated a word for this guy to have used) by malicious racially-motivated gossip in the other neighborhoods he'd built in. He said, "[Loser Developer] has built houses on streets that you and I would be afraid to walk down." and I was thinking, "That's supposed to be an endorsement? He builds in scary neighborhoods? Yeah, let's bring him here to our street!"

So then the chairman asked if there was anyone else who wanted to speak in favor of the project, and there was silence. Then he asked if anyone wanted to speak in opposition to the project, and about ten hands went up. So he laughed and said, "Okay, just form a line down the center aisle."

I went first. I wanted to just talk and get it over with. I went up to the podium, which was centered in front of the big U-shaped counter where all the board members were sitting. I brought my binders full of photocopied newspaper articles and the pictures I'd taken of the property next door and told the chairman I had materials to hand out to the board members, and one of them came over to the podium to get them from me.

At that point, the big bad developer dude, who up until then had been sitting in the back not saying anything, walked up to the podium behind me and starting saying very loudly that he wanted to know what materials I was handing out, and that he had reason to believe they were defamatory toward him.

And the chairman was like, "Who are you?" and the guy said, "I'm [Loser Developer]." and the chairman said, "Well, you've had your turn to present your case and Miss Thptpth has the floor right now." I turned to look at the guy, who was just this normal-looking pot-bellied short dude, and I thought, "You're the guy?" I had built him up in my mind as this big boogeyman, and here he was, talking out of order and trying to rattle me before I spoke, and getting shot down by the chairman.

So they passed around my binders and the pictures, and I made my case. When I started talking about the reputation of the developer and how the local goon had come to my house and threatened me, the chairman asked me to please keep my presentation limited to things that pertained to the project itself, so I had to cut out some of what I was going to say. My voice got really hoarse and I know I repeated myself a couple of times, but basically I think I did okay. I'm glad I had the podium to hold onto or my hands would have been shaking. One of the board members was somehow offended by the fact that I'd given them the newspaper articles; he tossed the binder back over the table toward me and said that it was unnecessary and that he didn't appreciate being told how to think. I was like, "Okayyyyy. Sure."

I wrapped it up by saying that they should consider that the developer hadn't even said what their supposed hardship was, and then I walked back to my seat. A bunch of other people got up to talk, including the Ward Councillor. KB went up and just said, "I agree with everything my wife said," and somebody in the audience said, "Good man!" and the board members laughed.

It became clear from the questions and discussion that a couple people on the board (including the one who tossed the binder at me) were on the developer's side, but that everyone else was against them. So the chairman was going to call the vote, and then the local doofus came up to the podium and said that they'd like to withdraw their petition. When the board voted on whether to allow them to withdraw it, they were turned down. Then there was more discussion about whether they had ever previously not allowed someone to withdraw their petition, and then there was a motion to re-vote on whether to allow them to withdraw, and people started getting confused. One of the board members was like, "If I vote 'aye' on this motion, what am I saying?"

In the end, they voted to allow them to withdraw the petition, which was sort of a bummer for us. The best thing would have been if they'd voted on the petition and been denied, because then it goes on record as a negative vote. Since they were allowed to withdraw their petition, it's more of a neutral thing. Which is too bad.

They're planning on coming up with new plans to build five townhouses instead, which, depending on what the plans look like, may not violate any zoning codes. So they may not have to have any public meeting about the feasibility of the whole thing. But now they're on our radar, and the Ward Councillor is going to keep me posted on when and if they come back to the Building Department with new plans.

My fervent wish is that they'll just decide it's not worth the money without the sixth unit and go away or resell the property. I don't think that's what's going to happen, but that's my best-case scenario. The next best case is that the City Council moves to re-zone the street to make it off-limits to multi-family developments, which is what I'm going to start working on next: a petition from the neighborhood to the City Council to do just that. If we can't get the neighborhood re-zoned and they decide to go ahead with the project, I'm hoping they'll be delayed long enough that it will be winter and they won't start until spring (I've seen other building projects go on throughout the winter, though, so they may not be very likely.) Our last option is we hire that lawyer and sue to stop construction. I'm also going to see if I can get someone from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection out here to look at the stream that runs behind the property and see if it qualifies as a Protected Waterway.

So that's what happened. I felt really drained after it was all over Tuesday night, and simultaneously all hyped up and adrenalized. I couldn't go to sleep for a long time, and I couldn't help but feel let down even though we'd won. I guess I had built up the hearing in my mind as this big showdown, the climax of the story, when in fact it was just the opening salvo in a long fight. I guess I was sort of hoping I wouldn't have to deal with this any more after the hearing, that it would just go away and be over.

But I also think I've learned a great deal in the last two weeks, not the least of which is how gratifying it is to fight for something you really want. Seeing and talking to all those people from the neighborhood at the hearing was a big thing for me. I really felt like they were there because of my efforts (a couple of them had my flyers in their hands as they were sitting there) and that what I'd done had actually made a difference. It was pretty cool.

So you're going to have to read more about this, I'm afraid!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

We'll lead as two kings

Okay, so the Zoning Board hearing's tonight. Everyone pray for them to rule in our favor so I can stop writing posts about this whole mishegass and you won't have to read any more about it.

I am filled with anxiety. I can't really recall the last time I was this keyed up and nervous about speaking in front of a group of people.

My mom was here this past weekend, and when I mentioned being nervous she was like, "What?! How many different plays have you performed in? You were up there in front of hundreds of people!" and while I see her point, this is different. When you're performing on stage, you're living as the character you're portraying, not as yourself, and so the things that are at stake for the character are not as important to you the person. (Not to mention the fact that in the reality of the character, there is no audience there.) When you're in the moment, acting and reacting as that character, you'll feel as though those things are important to you (if you're doing your job, that is), but once the performace is over, you can go back to being you.

At this hearing, the issue at stake is VERY important to me, and I don't have the extra layer of character to shield me from the fact that I care very much about what happens tonight. I'm going to be standing there in front of a bunch of powerful men trying to coherently explain why they should see my side of things. If things go badly, I'm afraid I'm going to be crushed.

So I've got my notes all written up on a yellow legal pad and I've thought about what I'm gonna wear (khaki shorts, sneakers and white button-down shirt; I wanna look like Joe Q. Citizen. Or rather Joan Q. Citizen.) and I plan on listening to some Rage Against the Machine and Tenacious D to get me in that extra-fired-up kick-ass mood before we go. I've got six three-ring binders with all the copies of the newspaper articles I've found (with relevant portions highlighted to make for easier reading) to hand out to the six board members. I've got two sets of 5x7 prints of pictures I took of the house and property next door so I can show the board members how small it really is and how many trees will be torn down if this goes through. KB and Nolan are coming with me for moral support and to maximize the number of people there on the "Oppose" side. I think I've done as much as I can do.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Lean a little bit closer see the roses really smell like poo poo poo

The Saga of The Development Next Door continues...*

This is my new part-time job, fighting this development (but unlike a real part-time job situation, I am not getting paid, alas). Every time Nolan goes down for a nap or manages to occupy himself with a book or a toy for 10 minutes at a time, I'm in front of the computer or on the phone working on this thing. My sweet little patient boy has been to Kinko's with me twice so far this week, not to mention the three tours of the neighborhood he's been on in his stroller as I hand out flyers and try to get people to sign a petition against the development.

I'm feeling pretty fired up about this whole thing, though. The more I find out about the developer and his local flunkies, the more outraged I get and the more determined I am to fight it off.

Would you believe this guy, this local doofus who seems to be running the show on behalf of the lead scuzzball developer, showed up at my house this morning? AND THREATENED ME. With my child sitting right there playing in the living room! He pretended to be a neighbor from another street and asked me for one of the flyers that I'd been handing out, and when I wouldn't give him one, he said, "You'll be sorry!" and that I would be hearing from his lawyer. Then he offered to buy our house out from under us. He said, "I'll buy it right now - how much do you want for it?" and I told him I didn't want to sell our house to him. He said everything comes down to money and I told him that I was sorry he felt that way, and that I think there are more things in life than money.

I think he's scared. I really do.

I think he's worried he's going to get turned down for this variance. He said even if he can't build the six units he wants to build, he'll still build as many as he can "by right," just to piss me off.

So after he left I called the cops and reported it. They sent an officer to our house and I told him I felt threatened and that I didn't want him contacting us or coming to our house anymore. When I told the officer the guy's name, he rolled his eyes and said, "John Doe? Ah god is he a pain in the ass!" and proceeded to tell me numerous stories about the crap work this guy does and how the police get calls all the time from subcontractors who haven't gotten paid by this guy for their work. I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse - this guy's bad enough that even the beat cop who gets sent out on house calls knows about him.

So the cop said he'd call John Doe and tell him that if he comes on our property again he'll be arrested, and he told me if I see him there again to just call 911.

I've also contacted our local newspaper to see if I can get them to do a story and/or cover the hearing on Tuesday. The woman I talked to at the news desk sounded interested, but I haven't heard from the reporter yet.

And I'm still waiting for a call back from the Mayor's office. His receptionist promised he'll call me before the hearing on Tuesday. His web site has a big quote from him about how he's concerned about the rampant development in our town and how he wants the Zoning Board to be more strict with handing out variances, so I'm hoping he'll want to back up that statement with some support for my cause.

The one person who's been amazingly great and supportive has been our Ward Councillor. I've spoken on the phone with him a number of times, and he sent a letter out to all the residents on our street and two neighboring streets about how he's against this development and encouraging people to show up at the hearing and voice their opposition to it. He's been wonderful - one of those public servants that make you have faith in government again.

We've been in touch with a lawyer, too, so if Evil Developer Man does get the variance approved we haven't ruled out a suit as an option. Ugh. I hate to even think of it, but a couple of the people I've talked to who have fought this guy before said that's the only thing they've seen work.

So the fight continues. The Zoning Board of Appeals hearing is Tuesday night at 7:15. Please think good thoughts for us 'round about that time.

Thanks for reading!

*Rose, you're psychic!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

You look like you're lots of fun

I realized there's been a marked lack of cute baby pictures on this site lately, and we can't have that.

I also realized that I don't have many good potential blackmail pictures of the naked-on-a-bear-skin-rug variety that I can show to Nolan's prom date when he's 16.

So here's a couple I took recently that should suffice.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss

SINCE we're talking about The Who...

Did you hear this story from (I can't believe I'm going to link to it) The National Review? Ostensibly the 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs, as compiled by someone with the appropriately tight-assed white-male name John J. Miller, it's really more of a wishful-thinking list. He takes lyrics that are so vague as to be almost uninterpretable (i.e., Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now" lyrics "I was alive and I waited for this...watching the world wake up from history.") and somehow construes them to be paens to the conservative cause. (Apparently that song is about the end of Communism - who knew?) It's almost worth reading just for the hilarious ways he twists the songs' lyrics to fit his mindset.

First of all - Jesus Jones? I mean, come on! A one-hit wonder from 1991 (and don't get me wrong, I have that album, I love that album, it's like the soundtrack to my entire high school career) is your Number 14 greatest conservative rock song of all time? Ranking higher than the Clash, the Kinks and Led Zepplin? That really makes me want to change my voter registration to Republican. Also on the list are those sure-to-go-down-in-the-Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame artists The Georgia Satellites, After the Fire, and Kid Rock.

Second of all, have you ever heard of artistic license, Mr. Miller? That's when an artist, whether it be a musician, a playwright, a poet, whoever, takes an idea or issue and examines it from a number of different perspectives, putting themselves in the characters' minds and trying to imagine what it must be like to be that person, to live that life. It doesn't for one second mean that the artist endorses that particular viewpoint or espouses that particular ideology him or herself. It just means that they're trying to put themselves in someone else's shoes and see what it might be like to think that way or feel that way or be that person. So taking a song's lyrics and shoehorning them into your little closed-minded right-wing puckered-asshole view of the world is kind of like taking one line from the Bible (like "an eye for an eye") and claiming it is the literal truth while ignoring all the other things in the Bible that directly contradict it (like "turn the other cheek") just because it happens to be what you want to believe. But then I guess that's something conservatives are pretty good at.

Third of all, and this is what really chaps my hide, you can't have The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" as your Number One Conservative rock song. I'm sorry, I just won't allow it. (You can keep the Eagles and Blink 182, however). Claiming "Won't Get Fooled Again" for the conservative cause would be like liberals claiming the sky for the Democrats because it happens to be blue. It's rock and roll, man, it doesn't belong to any particular party. Miller says that because the song "swears off naive idealism once and for all" it must somehow be conservative. As if jaded cynicism was only the province of the right. As if there isn't a president who claims to be a conservative sitting in office right now saying, "You can trust me, I've got our nation's best interests at heart" while he spies on us citizens and lies to us about it.

What I especially love is how Miller uses a quote from Johnny Cash to argue that politics has no place in music (Hey! We agree on that!) and then says, oh, but wait, some songs really ARE conservative. So, as long as he agrees with what he thinks the song is about, it's okay for the song to have a political viewpoint.

(My favorite looney justification for a song's inclusion on the list? It's Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun," which apparently is about how the right to bear arms can protect women from sexual predators. Can I just say ha, ha, and again, ha?)

KB and I watched the movie "Brazil" again a few weeks ago, and I was really struck by some of the similarities between Terry Gilliam's made-up crypto-fascist beaurocracy and our country today. At one point Jonathan Pryce, the hero, is taking a ride on mass transit (where none of the men in ties will give up a seat to a pregnant one-legged woman) and in the background there's a poster that says "Mind that package, you could save a life." (If you haven't seen it, and you should, part of the plot of the movie revolves around terrorists setting off bombs.)

So what do the posters on the T here in Boston say? They show concerned-looking citizens talking on cell phones and have slogans like, "If you see something, say something." and "Sometimes peace means having to speak up." In other words, please report any brown-skinned men with backpacks you see riding the T to your nearest policeman. Let's all fear and suspect each other and be constantly vigilant, or the terrorists have already won.

I know I'm not the first person to quote Ben Franklin on this issue, but it bears repeating: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Amen, brother.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

And all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity

I spoke to my Dad earlier today. He's back in Omaha, having been sped astonishingly quickly through his "outprocessing" procedure at Fort Benning. He's tired and out of whack, time-zone wise, but otherwise just fine. It sounds like our old chocolate lab Jester, who is 13 and sadly on his last legs, perked up at my Dad's return.

Dad's supposedly safe from being called back up by the Army for at least another six months, possibly a year, he's not sure exactly, but then after that he's fair game again. It was about three and a half years between the time he got called up to Afghanistan and this time, so maybe that will hold true again. I wish I could say that maybe things will be quieter in the world in a few years and there won't be such a need for our Army, but the way things are going in the Middle East (and with our doofus boy-king at the helm of this country), that's not looking too darn likely.

I started figuring out in my early twenties that my Dad and I didn't really agree on many political issues. It was a bit of a shock to me, because I've always looked up to my Dad and been proud of him (and still do and am), but then I guess it's always hard for kids to individuate from their parents and proclaim their own identities.

My Dad and I can talk about pop culture - movies, comedians, food, TV shows, music, all that stuff with absolutely no problem whatsoever, and our tastes are much the same. We both cackle at reruns of Monty Python and MST3K, we both like to slather hot sauce on a variety of unlikely foods, and we both believe that The Who circa 1969 could play rings around the Rolling Stones of any era.

But I'm afraid my Dad is a bit of a Republican (although he would probably describe himself as Independent, I'm guessing). He voted for Bush both times - mostly because of his ideas about money and taxes, I believe, but also because of his pro-military stance and aggressive foreign policy.

I still remember a telephone conversation we had when he was working as a Medical Director for an insurance company that was affiliated with a Catholic hospital system. Part of his job was overseeing the approval and denial of claims, and since it was a Catholic hospital, no abortions or birth control were covered by insurance. I asked him, "Well what are the women supposed to do, then?" and he said, "Well, I guess they shouldn't be having sex." and I was sort of flabbergasted by how unrealistic that was.

And I guess I shouldn't be surprised when it turns out we think differently about other things, too, but I still am, somehow.

So when I mentioned to my Dad today that the neighbors had sold their house to a development company that was going to put up condos, the way I phrased it was, "We've had some bad news." and then I told him what was going on. And he said, "Why is that bad news?"

And I just thought, "Wow."

I've been majorly, honestly depressed for the past two days since I found out about this whole thing. I've been working on fighting it, too, doing research and printing out flyers and talking to neighbors, but my overall mood has been one of near-despair. Kind of like the first few days after you get dumped by a significant other. You wake up in the morning, and for the first few seconds everything is fine, and then you remember, and you go, "Oh yeah," and the crushing black void descends on your vision. Like that.

So my Dad saying, "Why is that bad?" just made me stop and go, "Maybe our viewpoints are so different that I should just not even try to explain this to him." So I didn't.

Partly I felt like a chicken-shit, like I could have made him understand if I really tried, and partly I just felt like "Eh."

He's home. He's safe. Now we can continue to talk about meaningless trivia and silently agree to disagree on the things that really matter. Just like any family.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Then we'd say nothing would come between us two dreamers

Well, fuck.

We've just found out that the people next door to us sold their house to a development company which is planning on demolishing it and building three duplex condos on the lot.

We're talking right next door. Like, maybe 15 feet away.

We got a notice in the mail about the Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing, which is in two and a half weeks.

I don't know what the fuck to do. How do you fight something like this?

I don't mean that in a despairing "Oh woe is me" kind of way, I mean TELL ME HOW TO FIGHT IT. Give me tips, pointers, ways to get the neighborhood to rally behind me in that climactic movie scene where the unlikely hero has a big show-down at City Hall with the evil real-estate developer and triumphs to the strains of swelling violins.

I don't want to live next door to a demolition and construction project for the next year. I don't want my son to breathe construction fumes and be awakened from his naps by backhoes' engines grumbling to life (although, let's be honest, he'd probably love to stare at the giant trucks all day). I don't want ANOTHER friggin' condo complex on this street. There's two of them already on our tiny dead-end street and I don't know if it can support another one - it's not a very big street and the traffic is already a problem.

Plus they would have to raze all the property's trees all the way back to the stream that runs down behind the land. All those trees are lovely - their property is just to the right of what you see in this photo, which is of our property. I've never taken a photo of their property, although perhaps I should as it may not look like that for very long - it could all be gone. That would mean that all the birds and squirrels and such would be SOL, plus there'd be even less land to help absorb all the rainfall runoff, which was already a problem this year.

Even worse, I Googled the developer's name and got back a bunch of newspaper articles on previous projects of his that were protested by the communities he was building in. They had quotes like "[Developer's Name] builds the cheapest crap you can find. All [he] cares about is the almighty dollar." Fabulous. That sounds like just the kind of project we'd like to have in our neighborhood.

Even worse than THAT is that the developer's attorney is ON THE BOSTON ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS. He's on the fucking board! Doesn't that sound like an ethics violation to you? Doesn't that sound like cheap Hollywood melodrama? How can that be?

I really don't know what to do. I'm trying to keep this all in perspective, but it's very very hard.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

So kiss me and smile for me

My dad should be leaving Kosovo today. He'd been hearing from various sources for a couple weeks that July 18th might be the day, but he hadn't gotten official orders, so he was trying to be skeptical rather than hopeful. But I guess last week the orders came through, and he's scheduled to fly to Germany today (as far as I know). Then from Germany he'll come back to Fort Benning in Georgia for "outprocessing," which is a word that perfectly exemplifies the beaurocracy-speak of the U.S. Army. Who knows how long that will take, but the upshot is, he'll be back home in Nebraska in another week or two (and I know one redhead and one old chocolate lab who'll be very glad to see him).

I think he'll be glad to be leaving. In his e-mails he was sounding kind of tired and bored with staying on the base all the time, working in the ER in 24 hour shifts and not doing much else. But I guess in the last couple weeks he got to do a couple days of clinics out in the country, where they basically tell the citizens that they're giving free medical care and just treat whoever shows up as best they can. That's pretty much what he did in Ecuador last fall. I think he really likes those days. (That's my dad on the left treating villagers in Kosovo. The guy on the right is his translator.)

So I'm looking forward to hearing from him when he's home!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 07, 2006

You stink (tuba solo) but I love you

We had an amazing time in Vermont. Everyone in that entire family is friendly, down-to-earth, easy to talk to and lots of fun to hang out with. There isn't a black sheep in the bunch. (As Kathleen put it, in a tone of amazed pride, "None of our kids are losers!") We had our own little cottage to retreat to when we needed to nap (or Nolan needed to nap), but there were plenty of communal spaces to hang out in as well. KB got in several hotly contested games of ping-pong in the lodge's rec room, we got to have one adults-only dinner while Nolan was babysat, and we splashed in the lake and had several other outdoor adventures. It was excellent.

The thing that struck me is how much of a FORCE Nolan has become. He has a definite will and his own needs and desires, and he's not shy about expressing them. I think of him now as my own little physics experiment: he's entropy, I'm enthalpy. He rampages through a room knocking toys over and flinging things from end tables; I follow him around picking them back up and restoring them (as best I can) to the way they were before. I picture miniature villagers pointing up at him in horror and shouting (in poorly lip-synced English) "Oh no! It's Babyzilla! RUUUUUN!!"

When he's done eating, does he dab his mouth with a napkin, pat his belly contendedly and say, 'That was delicious! Thank you, mother.'? Um, no. He starts tossing bites of food over his shoulder with glee, smashing and smearing whatever he's eating into his hair, up his nose, and into his ears. Even as I tell him, "No" he makes eye contact with me and daintily picks up another bite as if to eat it, but instead flings it overboard. Then he's finished. Even if he's not finished, he's FINISHED, as far as I'm concerned.

So he's definitely his own person. Scary. Where did he come from? I look at him sometimes and just ponder the fact that there didn't used to be a Nolan, and now there is. Before: No Nolan. After: Nolan! I was looking at our wedding pictures a while back and I had the thought "What did we do with Nolan during the wedding?" Duh.

Thanks for reading.

(So obviously, when I said "No posts for a few days" last time I really meant "No posts for 12 days." It's so easy to get out of a habit even once you think you've gotten into it.)

Friday, June 30, 2006

It's a long way down the holiday road

We're going up to Vermont this weekend to stay at a lodge on a lake (on a bump on a log in a hole in the bottom of the sea) with KB's stepfather Alan and his wife Kathleen. There will also be assorted other family members there - KB's sister and her husband are flying out from Hawaii, and Alan's kids and Kathleen's kids and THEIR kids are coming too. I think there'll be 24 people in all. So I'm looking forward to a crazy family weekend of lake shore goodness.

But there will no posts, no posts! I say, for several days. We're actually coming back on the 4th, so I don't know if we'll be seeing any fireworks or not, which makes me kind of sad. I like the big boom boom and sparkly flashyness.

I've had a couple of memorable 4ths, in terms of fireworks and celebrating. The year I did summer theater at UW we sat up on the roof of the theater building and watched the fireworks at War Memorial Stadium, which is like, a block away. We were so close to the fireworks that we were getting little bits of paper and ash raining down on us. We were so close that the only comments anyone could make were "Wow!" and "WOW!" We were so close that I was concerned that perhaps we were TOO close. But it was really cool.

Another time I was visiting Zach in SF and we sat up (illegally, I believe) on the roof of his apartment building to watch the fireworks out in the bay. When they were over (and they, also, were damn fine fireworks) was the best part. There were hundreds of other people also sitting on roofs watching, and somewhere behind us, just as the last lights from the finale were fading, someone with a fabulous tenor voice started to sing the National Anthem. By the time he got to "by the dawn's early light" everyone else on all the rooftops was singing along with him. When we all yelled "and the hooooome of theeeeee braaaaaaaaave," everyone erupted into cheers. It was the single best time I've ever sung the National Anthem, because it was totally spontaneous and filled with feeling. It made me think of how great our country could be.

So everybody have a happy, safe 4th of July weekend and try to think of a way to wrest our fabulous country out of the hands of the Frowny Kid and his evildoing cohorts. The USA deserves better.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I asked the doctor to take a picture so I could look at you from inside as well

Here's the hair. Or rather, the absence of hair.

And the glasses. Do you like the glasses? Those are new, too.

I can't wait for the next time I get carded (assuming, of course, that it ever happens again.) They'll take one look at my driver's license (shoulder-length hair, no glasses) and be like, "What, you think I'm stupid?"

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Drink my juice young love chug-a-lug me

Well, I'm finished with nursing. Nolan is now completely weaned. (Be forewarned: Much talk of boobs and body fluids ahead.)

Partly I'm sad and misty-eyed at being through with nursing. It was always my special time with Nolan, something only I could do for him, and it made me feel like the very essence of Mom-ness; this is what mothers do, they nurse their babies. Sometimes when it was the last nursing at night and I was rocking him in the rocking chair and singing to him while we nursed, he would wrap one hand around my thumb and close his eyes, getting sleepier and sleepier. I loved that. I'll miss that.

And it means that he's not a baby anymore; the tiny little bundle that we brought home from the hospital is gone, and he's been replaced by a walking (almost), talking (sort of), curiousity-satisfation machine. In some ways, it's hard for me to believe that he'll never be that little guy again, and I've mourned for every stage of baby-hood that he's passed through and grown out of. I'll miss my little nursing baby.

But he was increasingly not very snuggly while we were nursing, particularly in the last few months as he's been learning to crawl and then walk. He got antsy. He didn't want to lie there and nurse, he wanted to flip over and try to sit up (while keeping my nipple in his mouth, of course), he wanted to fiddle with my glasses and my mouth and my shirt and see how hard he could smack me with his free hand before I grabbed it and told him to stop. And that, I won't miss.

Plus, it will be very VERY nice to have my entire body back to myself again. I'm hoping my breasts will shrink down a bit to their pre-pregnancy size (which, let's face it, wasn't very small to begin with, but it would be nice to wear my regular bras again). I'd like to (dare I say it?) try sleeping on my stomach once again. That used to be my favorite sleep position. My stretch marks have faded to an acceptably pale silvery-pink color, and I'm back down (even slightly below, woo-hoo!) to my previous weight. So the nursing was really the only thing left.

I started weaning him about two weeks before his birthday. All the books say you should wait until the child is a year old before you try to give him whole milk, but I figured two weeks one way or the other couldn't hurt. We were down to four nursing sessions per day at that point: first thing in the morning (6 am), mid-morning (10:30 or 11), mid-afternoon (3:30 or 4) and last thing at night (7pm). So at the mid-morning session, instead of nursing, I gave him a bottle of whole milk. I was prepared for rejection of the milk; they say some babies have to be gradually introduced to it via a mixture of breast milk and cow's milk in increasing ratios. But Nolan took the bottle and sucked the entire thing down as nonchalantly as if he were Dean Martin and I'd given him a martini. No problem whatsoever.

(The ease with which he took to the bottle made me a little sad; in some ways I was hoping it would be a little harder to replace me than that.)

So then it was just a matter of giving each nursing-replacement a while to "take" before moving on to the next one. I did the two middle-of-the-day ones one after the other, taking a week for each, and then held to that pattern for an extra week. Then I had to decide which would be the next session to go: the crack-of-dawn sunrise special or the sleepy, snuggly bedtime for bonzo. Mostly for convenience's sake, I decided to hold on to the morning one and lose the night time one. That was hard. But we still rocked and sang and cuddled, it was just with a bottle of milk instead. I gave that two weeks as well, to give my breasts a chance to catch up to the reduced demand.

So all the last two weeks I've only been nursing him once a day, in the morning, which is always nice and sweet because we're both sleepy and we lay in bed together for fifteen minutes or so while he nurses. It's been a wonderful way to wake up. But I decided yesterday was the last day, so this morning, KB got up and gave Nolan a bottle of milk instead of bringing him in to me to nurse.

I was pretty sad; a really lovely part of my life is over now. And it was so hard at the beginning! We had so many problems getting started nursing that I was sure he'd be damaged for life. I was stubborn about not wanting to give him formula and we eventually persevered, but it wasn't a smooth start.

It's amazing to me that he lived the first six months of his life drinking only breast milk - it's hard to believe that there are enough nutrients and fat and protein in that watery fluid to sustain a growing baby, but there are. Then, as we got toward the end of the first year, I started to get really tired of pumping breast milk to have a supply in the freezer (to mix with his cereal and give in bottles when someone else was taking care of him.) Nursing your baby is a miracle and a privilege, no question, but man, pumping breast milk sucks big donkey dick. You really feel for cows when you're sitting there, plastic suction cones stuck to your boobs, electric motor humming away, trying to think about your baby so your milk will let down and you can get the damn things off.

I'm proud of what my body is capable of. (I've decided to try to think about my stretch marks not as something to hide, but as a tattoo that says, "Fuck yeah I had a baby. And it was HARD.") And I'm proud we made it through the entire first year without switching to formula. I think Nolan was more ready to give it up than I was, as evidenced by his easy transition, and there's really no good that can come out of holding your kid back to satisfy your own needs. So I did it.

And now I can have more than one drink at a time! One of these nights.

Thanks for reading.